There’s a quote I saw once, “It’s not about having more money, but living life on your own terms.” For you and I, and any aspiring entrepreneur, this is precisely why we let go of a false stability of the corporate world only to find ourselves navigating the turbulent and uncertain waters of entrepreneurship. This is why we spend our days at co-working spaces and feed our caffeine addictions.
We want the freedom to call the shots.
But this freedom isn’t all, it also isn’t enough. For most of us, a powerful desire to express our own voice—that which is deeply within us—is what guides us into the world of entrepreneurship. Some do it by developing a product or an idea, others by transforming the way we do things, and a few by finding a cure to a social or physical ailment. In each case, this inner desire stems from a greater purpose, and it is the clarity of this purpose that is essential to our success—and the success of our venture.
Just take a look at the most successful entrepreneurs that came before us. They each had one thing in common: clarity of inner purpose. Before they figured out their “what,” and “how,” they found their “why.”
“Reality is created by the mind, we can change our reality by changing our mind.” – Plato
Take Steve Jobs, for example, he was driven by a desire to impact the world at the intersection of creativity and technology. Today, Apple is not only the most financially valuable company, but also deeply revered for this very impact. I am typing this essay on a MacBook Pro while listening to music through my AirPods.
Or take Richard Branson, whose purposeful passion for adventure and turning ideas into reality led him to create an empire encompassing over 400 companies. He knew why he was doing it, whether when playing tennis at his island in the Caribbean or investing in space exploration.
In the social and political realms, there are entrepreneurs, too. They’re the people who envision a world in a different light and pursue that path, or witness an injustice, and seek to right it. For example, take a look at Nelson Mandela, whose 100th birth anniversary, millions celebrated around the world. His “why” was to help his fellow kin break from the shackles of apartheid. Such was his clarity of purpose that he spent 24 years in a prison, patiently maintaining the vision of a free and equitable South Africa.
Is your “why” as clear?
Not knowing our purpose in life is like taking a train ride without knowing why we are there. While the ride may be enjoyable at times, the lack of clarity—of not knowing “why” we are there—will inevitably cause confusion, discomfort and fear. (And we know what fear does to promising ventures…it kills them.) We cannot predict who will join us on the train, the detours we might face on the trip, or even when and where the train will stop, however, we can be deliberate in knowing why we are there and making the most of it.
“Talent you have naturally. Skill is only developed by hours and hours and hours of beating on your craft.” – Will Smith
Purpose is what gives us meaning, contentment, and a drive to stay up late at night, wake up early, and spend countless hours making things happen amid obstacles and after others think we have gone mad. It is this same purpose that keeps us sane and gives us the willpower to stand up, brush ourselves off, and keep going each time the going gets tough and when we fail (note that I did not say *if*, but *when* we fail).
So, let me ask you: what is your purpose? How would you describe it in a single sentence? If you had to, could you do it in one word? If you aren’t sure, there’s no shame in saying so. There’s only shame if you don’t do something about it. There are many ways to answer the question, “why am I here?” and even more ways to live that answer out. Sometimes, it takes us time to live out the questions only to find the answer when we least expect them.
Take the time to find yourself, you’re worth it.
You’ll also be glad you did it. Knowing your “why” will help you answer questions about your life. It will also help you arrive at the clarity of why your venture exists and what it is meant to do.
Our inner purpose is the main driver and the critical founding block of a meaningful human experience. Without identifying your passions and clearly understanding your purpose, your odds of success will diminish. More importantly, your odds for happiness will plummet. As someone wise once said, “this world needs more people who come alive.” Entrepreneurs are, by definition, meant to be those people. Take the time to find your purpose, and then live it out through your entrepreneurial ventures. I promise, that step will make all the difference.